Lindell Wigginton’s big night leads Iowa State to fifth straight win

Lindell Wigginton scores during the second half of a game against Northern Illinois on Dec. 4. at Hilton Coliseum. Cyclones beat the Huskies 94-80.

Aaron Marner

The first half of Iowa State’s win over Northern Illinois looked pretty rough.

The Cyclones couldn’t get stops on defense, and while they scored 36 points in the half, the offense needed work, too.

But thanks to freshman Lindell Wigginton, the second half was a breeze for the Cyclones.

Wigginton scored a team-high, and career-high, 28 points. He also led the team with seven rebounds and added four assists.

When Iowa State couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first half, it was Wigginton who led the way with 13 of Iowa State’s 36 points.

Thanks to a poor half-court offense, Iowa State has been looking to push the ball in transition a lot this season. In the first half, the Cyclones got just one steal and four fast break points.

“I think the first half, we didn’t show a lot of intensity,” Wigginton said. “On the offensive end and the defensive end. Coach told us in the locker room [we had to] be more intense and play more defense.”

In the second half? Six steals. 19 fastbreak points. And an offense that couldn’t be stopped.

“Our pace was a lot better [in the second half],” said coach Steve Prohm. “We made the extra pass. I thought the first half sometimes we got into the paint and they really converged and we didn’t make the extra pass or we didn’t make the right decision.”

Wigginton’s 28 points is one of the best scoring nights by a freshman in school history. He tied Ron Harris for fifth in program history among Cyclone freshman in single-game scoring.

He did it in several ways, too. Wigginton shot 10 free throws, mostly because Northern Illinois couldn’t stay in front of him without fouling. He hit 4-of-6 shots from behind the 3-point line, proving that the Huskies couldn’t give him a cushion.

There just wasn’t a way to stop Lindell Wigginton on Monday night.

“My teammates were finding me in the right spots,” Wigginton said. “My coaches, they keep me confident out there… even if I have a bad game. They just tell me to keep going, they know what I can do.”

Wigginton was aided by senior guard Donovan Jackson, especially in the second half. Jackson scored just five points in the first half after missing time with foul trouble, but in the second half he turned it up.

The lefty nailed a career-best six 3-pointers, five of which came after the halftime break. He ended the game with 24 points.

“I got to get myself going,” Jackson said. “I think for us, in order to be a real good program, I have to max out at my role.

“Lindell’s doing a great job and Nick [Weiler-Babb] is doing a wonderful job so everybody just has to keep maxing out their role.”

Wigginton was a huge part of the transition offense that got Iowa State rolling in the second half.

He grabbed three steals, one of which led to an easy dunk. He helped dish out four assists after the halftime break as well.

Wigginton found Jackson in the corner for a big 3-pointer. He also finished an alley-oop on a 2-on-1 fast break, but Wigginton’s most important connections were with fellow freshman Cameron Lard.

Lard tied his career-high with 14 points, thanks in large part to passes from the guards, who pushed the ball up the court after missed shots and steals.

“I think the ball went up the side of the floor really quick,” Prohm said. “I mean, Nick didn’t dribble it up, he kicked it up the floor and Donovan was able to get a couple looks. Cameron was able to get a couple 1-to-2-to-5s, as we say.”

Those 1-to-2-to-5s are when the ball is passed in transition from a guard up to another guard and finally to the center, in this case Lard, running to the rim.

Most of Lard’s 14 points came right at the rim, often in transition on those 1-to-2-to-5 fast breaks Prohm mentioned. He was extremely efficient as a scorer, especially in the second half, where he shot 6-for-7 from the field. Some of those easy buckets came off of passes from Wigginton.

Thanks to Wigginton’s career night, Iowa State was able to pull away with the win. If his output against Northern Illinois is any indication of what he’s capable of, the Cyclones may have found their next star guard.